With over 50 years of experience in estate planning, our attorneys have the knowledge and expertise to help you navigate, plan and prepare the necessary documents for every aspect of your estate planning. We can help you update an existing Last Will and Testament, draft a new Will, name someone to handle your affairs if you are unable to do so, or prepare a power of attorney and/or health care directive (often called a Living Will).
At your consultation, we will take the time to answer any questions you have regarding your estate and to ensure that you understand your options.
Our estate planning services include:
Durable Power of Attorney
Our attorneys draft durable general powers of attorney enabling you to appoint one or more persons (attorney-in-fact or agent) to manage your financial affairs and property, either now or in the future.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare
When you make a power of attorney for healthcare, you can give your healthcare agent as much or as little power as feels comfortable to you. This document will also give your healthcare agent access to your healthcare records.
A healthcare directive expresses your wishes regarding artificial life support to terminate or prolong your life if you are unable to communicate your desire.
Community Property Agreements
This agreement is an option for married couples and registered domestic partners. It allows a spouse or domestic partner to avoid the probate process by declaring that all of the marital estate is community property and is transferred to the surviving spouse or domestic partner upon the death of one of the spouses or partners. Although Washington is a community property state, there are still types of property that will be considered separate property if this agreement is not in place prior to the death of one of the spouses or domestic partners. You should consult with our attorneys to determine if this agreement is a good fit for your circumstances.
Wills and Trusts
Wills are devices you can use to provide for the distribution of your estate upon your death. Deciding whether a will or a trust best fits your needs depends on your circumstances and tax laws and we can help you navigate these decisions.
A revocable trust is typically recommended as an alternative to the traditional will, although in Washington, wills are generally used because of the streamlined probate system. If real property is located in another state or country, a title holdings revocable trust is often recommended to avoid ancillary probate in the other state.
Our attorneys can help to create trusts used for the gift tax annual exclusion (also known as a "Crummey Trust"), irrevocable life insurance trusts, qualified minors’ trusts, children’s and grandchildren’s trusts, and trusts to capture the unified credit when the first spouse passes away.
Living Revocable Trusts
Our attorneys draft living trusts that allow you to control the distribution of your estate; this enables you to transfer ownership of your property and assets into the trust. You can serve as the trustee or select a person or an institution to be the trustee. The advantage of a living revocable trust is that it is private and you can avoid probate because the trust owns the assets, not the deceased. Only property in the deceased’s name must go through probate.
Estate and Trust Litigation
Unfortunately, on occasion, there are "will contests" and other disputes involving the validity, interpretation or administration of a will, probate or trust. We are experienced at representing personal representatives (executors) of estates, trustees and beneficiaries in these matters. We strive to find acceptable settlement options, but if necessary, our attorneys are prepared to litigate these matters in court.